Should The Elderly Be Denied Their Second Amendment Right Because Of Their Age? Or Gender?

1-10-09

[The delaware.com site carried this story however it is now archived and available only for purchase. I just happened to have saved the text from when the article was online and will quote from it from time to time.]

Several months ago the Delaware State Police prevented 81 year old Alvina Vansickle from buying a Taurus .22 revolver for no other reason other than she was an elderly woman and she had never purchased a firearm before…at least as far back as they could check. More on that later. This event unfolded when Mrs. Vansickle, the wife of 83 year old J.R. Vansickle who lost both legs to diabetes and is wheelchair bound, stopped by Charley Steele’s gun store in August ’08 and set her sights on the little .22 pistol.

Mr. Vansickle said his wife has a clean record, heck not even a traffic ticket so when Steele made the mandated call to the state police for a background check it came as a shock to everyone when the sale came to an immediate halt. Why? It seems an employee within the Firearms Transaction Approval Program (FTAP) noticed her age and her gender and decided someone further up the chain of command should make the decision on whether she would be allowed to utilize her 2nd Amendment rights, or not. That person would be Sgt. Benjamin Nefonsky the man in charge of the firearms approval unit.

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Col. Thomas MacLeish, superintendent of the Delaware State Police confirmed the consummation of the sale was stopped because of the age and gender of the purchaser saying, “To be very honest with you, we have a legal obligation under the law to do approvals. We also have an obligation to make sure we’re safe, and paying due diligence.” MacLeish said the initial call taker “was concerned this individual never purchased a weapon before. Age and gender caused her to take caution.” As to whether age and gender are included in the state statute as legitimate reasons to reject a firearms purchase, MacLeish stated, “No, they are not.” Since it is improper and in fact illegal for law enforcement to keep records of firearm purchasers beyond a short period of time how did the department know Mrs. Vansickle had never bought a gun before???

After a ten day delay she was finally allowed to buy her little Taurus revolver but only after being interviewed, along with the gun store owner, by the police and they were satisfied she indeed was buying the gun for self defense. Normally this process takes, at most, three days…and that would be without the police interview.

The story of Mrs. Vansickle and her firearm purchase denial eventually made its way to Dave Lawson, a retired Delaware state police lieutenant and firearms instructor. Lawson spoke to his former colleague Nefosky about Vansickle and Nefosky told him he searched seven years of firearms transaction records to see if Vansickle had ever bought a gun before.

“I was totally drop-jawed,” Lawson said. “I asked him how far back the records went. He didn’t know. He didn’t care. He felt she was possibly a threat because of her age, a threat to herself or her family. That’s what the implication was. He was concerned that never having bought a gun before, why would she want one now, at 81?”

Lawson served in the State Bureau of Identification as a lieutenant, which includes the firearms approval section and other specialty units. He knew the law. Nefosky’s concern about Vansickle’s age and sex, he said, should never have come into play.

Lawson also knew the gun records should have been destroyed.

Now Col. MacLeish has claimed all paper records of firearm purchases are destroyed every 60 days but as we all know the spirit of the law means nothing to those that decide to be as literal as possible when it suits their needs. The electronic records in Delaware (and probably many other states as well) are a completely different story. You see if you take a paper record and enter everything contained within into a computer database then destroying the paper document accomplishes nothing and the computer (electronic) records can be held in perpetuity and quickly accessed by various government agencies, in conflict with existing statutes. MacLeish stated that there was “a glitch in the system” dating back some three or four years and now that it has been identified the records have been purged. This was not a glitch, this was a deliberate attempt by the state police to keep a record of anyone and everyone purchasing a firearm in the home state of a U.S. Senator, Joe Biden, that is on record as an anti-gun liberal with an ‘F’ rating from the NRA.

There is a very good reason why lists of gun owners should not be kept by government agencies unfortunately fewer and fewer American citizens understand the reason behind this and see no problem with it.

Several people told him of Nefosky’s delay, and expressed their outrage about the list of gun owners maintained by the Delaware State Police. Legally, he said, Vansickle’s reasons for wanting a firearm are moot, and he knew the lists were a problem.

“This suggests two violations: one is denial without cause, and the other is keeping records of gun purchases,” said John Thompson, president of the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, the local affiliate of the NRA. “Under statute, the Delaware State Police are required to destroy any purchase records that involve approvals. Now they’re maintaining lists of gun owners, which we think is inappropriate. We did not create this system to allow this to happen.” Vansickle’s civil rights were violated, he said.

Retired Dover police captain John Sigler is president of the National Rifle Association, a position once held by legendary actor Charlton Heston. “I was literally shocked that such an event would occur in the state of Delaware,” he said.

Both Sigler and Thompson pointed to the recent Supreme Court decision District of Columbia v. Heller, in which the court found that the Second Amendment protects an individual’s right to possess firearms for personal use, such as self-defense.

An individual’s right to possess firearms for personal use, such as self defense?? What a novel idea since the vast majority of us do not have Secret Service details surrounding us 24/7 or a cop at our elbow day and night. What really irks me is the idea that someone decided this lifelong law abiding elderly woman should not have the right or ability to protect herself and her husband in the event someone tried to do them harm. Believe me there are plenty of thugs around looking to pick on what they perceive to be helpless little old ladies.

Now I have to wonder, rhetorically of course, how the lady in that video, ‘Sandra,’ feels about the Delaware State Police initially preventing (before the story leaked out otherwise who knows what would have happened) Mrs. Vansickle from buying a gun to protect herself?

UPDATE:

A follow up video is now available.

This entry was posted in 2nd Amendment.

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